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Record rainfall leads to mold growth in Virginia schools

Record rainfall in Virginia has led to the development of a really messy problem for schools: mold.

The mold growth in schools has caused health issues for some students who were not aware that the buildings they were spending so much of their time in was contaminated with mold and getting them sick.

Aurora Malden, who attends classes in Prince George County, was one of those students. Her mother, Brittany Malden, has three other children in addition to Aurora. Two of her children attend school at Walton Elementary, but Aurora was the only one who kept falling ill. She got so sick, in fact, that she had to make a trip to the hospital.

“She started having symptoms way back last year, in April, I think,” Malden said of her daughter, Aurora. “She started having these cough attacks”

Even after she was taking antibiotics and steroid treatments for months – and a trip to the VCU Medical Center via ambulance – doctors still couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Aurora.

“They get exposed to stuff, they get sick,” Malden said. “But that cough just did not go away. She just could not stop coughing.”

Then it hit Malden: she wondered if her daughter’s non-stop coughing was an allergic reaction to mold.

It was cases like Aurora’s that led Superintendent Renee Williams to shut down the school and have it thoroughly cleaned.

“Initially, we identified several classrooms,” Williams said. “The school board made the decision to test the whole school.” Mold was discovered in six rooms, five of those where classrooms. The school was closed down for two days so that it could be properly cleaned.

Prince George County’s schools are not alone. At least six Virginia schools and colleges have been dealing with mold for months. Of the 2,000 public schools in Virginia, 40 percent are more than 50 years old. Currently, there aren’t any laws in the state that require older schools to be tested for mold. Generally, educators and parents have to sound the alarm in order for testing to be initiated.

Indoor mold thrives in moist, warm environments. Given the heavy rainfall, the warm temperatures, and the high humidity levels in Virginia, coupled with the age of the schools, many of which lack proper ventilation or have structural issues that can lead to leaks, it’s no surprise that mold growth has become a problem for so many Virginia schools.

Exposure to mold can cause numerous health problems. Symptoms can include skin irritation, runny nose, congestion, coughing, wheezing, and fatigue. In severe cases, it can also cause organ damage, infections, and even death. Given the potential severity of the complications that mold exposure can cause, it is imperative for schools to have their buildings properly assessed for mold growth and remediate if it is found.

Mold Inspection & Testing Virginia Beach has years of experience performing mold tests throughout the state of Virginia. We urge all schools to arrange for mold testing to protect the health and safety of their students, as well as faculty and staff. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 757.541.2991.

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